Ten on Tuesday: Recently Read Edition

Mar 25

I can’t wait to see what every one else responding to Carole’s request for Last Ten Books Read lists. I’m building up my summer break reading list!

Here are my last ten books read (I’m not including work-related books):

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This is sweet without being saccharine. As a graduate ca. 1987, the cultural references made the book nostalgic for me, too. I would have worn this out when I was in middle school.

2. Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler. Well, I’m listening, and I’m not quite finished. It, not surprisingly, reminds me a LOT of her The Accidental Tourist, only with older characters. I’m not wowed by it, but the story telling is solid, and I’m interested in what happens to the characters.

3. Beautiful Wreck by the beautiful Larissa Brown. Read my review on Goodreads here. And read this book. I love it.

4. Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. I confess to being a HUGE fan of Cather’s. Shoot, I planned a trip around seeing her house (do you like going to writers’ homes? My number one favorite touristy thing to do!) This book made me weep. I mean, the last page had me sobbing. There were sentences that made my heart beat faster.

5. How Animals Grieve by Barbara King. I’m not usually a big non-fiction fan, but this was one of the best books I read in 2013. I gave it to several people after finishing it. Fascinating subject, and an excellent model of research engaging the reader. My Goodreads review.

6. Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire. It’s cute if you like funny pictures of dogs.

7. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls. I enjoyed this, but I found it predictable at times. Still, the writing is enjoyable, and the characters about which we care the most are portrayed effectively.

8. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a good reminder to just get your damn work done.

9. Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. I listened to this while I commuted and hiked my dogs. The writing left me cold, and I’m no history buff (at least of this period), so my indifference may be that I’m not the audience for the book.

10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I’m cheating. I read this last summer. But I loved it so much, and I want you to read it, too!

What have you been reading?

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Silver Locks Project: 11 Month Update

Mar 13

photo 2Here I am, fresh from my stylist’s chair. You know what she did today?

She cut and carved out the last bits of yellow.

Eleven months in, another 1.75″ cut, and I’ve pretty much reached my natural color. There is a tiny bit left in my fringe because I wasn’t willing to cut them any more. Originally I estimated I’d get to this point October 2014, but my willingness to wear my hair a bit shorter in the interest of speeding things along cut (get it? cut?) seven months off the project.

Growing out the silver was far less painful than I imagined. In fact, it was only in the last two months or so that the yellow ends began to bother me. Most days, I rolled my hair into a twist so I wouldn’t have to look at them.

My hair is shorter than it has been since we bleached it last April, but I’m pleased to have my real color shining through. To keep my hair shiny, I follow Em’s basic guidelines: consume healthy foods, don’t over wash (I usually wash every third day), use sulfate-free shampoo. Today she recommended that I use a violet shampoo every now and again, to counteract any deposits from water/pollution that my turn my hair dull.

Here’s another view:

photo 3

 

You can read all about the Silver Locks Project. If you’re thinking of quitting the dye (and I am the last person to judge you if you are not interested in quitting the dye, trust me!), and you want more details about my journey, just leave a note in the comments. I’m glad to answer any questions!

 

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52/52 Project Update

Mar 08

Way back in September I embarked on my 52/52 (52 items for 52 weeks) project. Debbie asked how it was going recently, which motivated me to post about it.

Here’s the short truth: I am bored.

I examined this during a writing session last week, and I realized that I’ve been wearing pretty much the same wardrobe since October 2010. There have been some additions/replacements, but dressing minimally, starting with Project 333, has been a habit for well over three years now. Don’t worry. I’m not rushing out to fill my closet. Instead, I’ll review what I’ve been wearing and push through the boredom.

Of the items on my original 52/52 list, there are several I haven’t worn at all or only once (I won’t include the summer-only clothes since, well, it hasn’t been summer since I started):

  • Eileen Fisher dress (I never bought it!)
  • White blouse (it’s still packed away from summer’s P333)
  • Black tank (I had planned to buy a second, but I don’t need it yet)
  • Black turtleneck (couldn’t decide on one to buy)
  • Chinoa boots (still need repair)

I have added a few things, allowed in my monthly swap rule–two sweaters given to me as Christmas gifts, and a gray dress with elbow-length sleeves.

Over the next week, while I’m on Spring Break, I’ll clean my closet and bureau and decide if this is really project 47/52 or if I want to add items into the mix.

Despite my recent boredom, I continue to prefer dressing with less. Eventually, I’d like to figure out an even smaller year-round wardrobe.

What have you been wearing that you love lately?

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Ten on Tuesday: I Am Edition

Feb 04

This week, Carole invited us to write ten sentences that start with “I am…”

Frost lace

Frost lace

1. I am optimistic.

2. I am reading Nancy Drew The Secret of the Old Clock with a few knitting friends. Teenage girls had sophisticated vocabularies in 1930/59.

3. I am learning to knit Eastern Uncrossed, or as Donna told me it is called in Lithuanian books, Močiutės Mezgimas. I took a class at my LYS on Saturday, and it renewed my interest in knitting. I’d been in a knitting slump.

4. I am knitting Maren for my Olympics project.

5. I am on my third swatch for Maren. I know, stop the press. I knit the first my usual English style, and the next Eastern Uncrossed. Holy gauge difference! The swatch I’m knitting now is looking better since I switched from 7s to 5s.

6. I am excited to watch the Olympics. I prefer the winter games to the summer.

7. I am looking for new winter vegetarian recipes. Please share links!

8. I am eager to start Oskar’s next round of training. We couldn’t take the February intermediate because of scheduling conflicts; March can’t come fast enough!

9. I am ready for spring, although the winter wonderland created by a fresh 3″ of snow is pretty.

10. I am curious. Tell me what you are!

Yesterday Neal sent me a link to this video of Neil Gaiman reading Green Eggs and Ham. Perfect for today’s prompt!

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Bullet Journal

Jan 29

December found me searching for a new system. For a few years, I’ve mashed a written and digital calendar, but it wasn’t working. Something was missing. I had to-do lists, but they were in both places, and I lacked confidence in my system.

I came across Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal site. I’d heard about it last year, probably from Penny. This time, it made sense to me. Like most of us, I have a number of different parts of my life that require organization. My head can be a jumble unless I have a secure way of getting the information, deadlines, ideas, etc. down somewhere retrievable.

I followed Ryder’s method, and *swoon*! I fell hard in love. This works for me! It reflects my way of thinking! I hacked my Moleskine using Zoot’s 2014 calendar pages. This more traditional calendar makes sense for planning future appointments in a way a “future dates” page doesn’t for me. If you’re thinking of trying this method, be sure to read all of Zoot’s posts about her bullet journal.

Here are some of my favorite things almost one month in:

  • having a home for all the bibs and bobs of information swirling around my life.
  • using the collections pages to organize projects; I’m working as interim director of our writing center this semester, and it has been invaluable to keep all the opening weeks’ to-dos and key information in one place that I always have with me rather than in folders that I might forget at work.
  • adding notes to my daily calendar. I keep track of what we have for dinner to aid future menu planning, as well as notes about fun / noteworthy events of the day.
  • a use for washi tape! This stuff is new to me, and it’s adorable! I’ve been using it to mark month calendar page edges.
  • finally feeling organized. A lot of chaos remains in the bullet journal, but it is chaos that is out of my head. I don’t have to fret about remembering it. And, I’m pretty dedicated about putting the information on a collections page that makes sense. So less chaos than in my head. That’s good, right?

There you have it: I’m a convert. I’d love to hear about your system, especially if you’ve tried the bullet journal, too.

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Ten on Tuesday: Best of ’13 Edition

Jan 07

Carole asked us to share 10 Favorite Moments of 2013. It’s hard to limit to ten!

1.My sister’s eldest, Drew, visited in January. We took the train to NYC, saw the Beatrix Potter exhibit at the Morgan, and enjoyed pastries at my favorite NYC cafe.  IMG_1007

2. My birthday dinner with Neal. A blizzard hit, and Neal spent the day snow blowing and shoveling. He then took me skiing, and finally, to a lovely dinner.IMG_1086

3. Playing with Maddie in the brook during the spring.

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4. Spending loads of time in Paris. I especially loved wandering Shakespeare and Company while listening to this young woman play the piano.

SandCo5. A sunny day in Montplaisir that ended with time spent watercoloring.

watercolor in MontPlaisir6. Morning and evening visits at Montplaisir from my four-legged friend (I named him Arno).

arno

 

7. A lovely afternoon in Camon, where nearly every doorway is covered in roses, with artist Cassandra Einstein and her charming musical husband.

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8. Time shopping in the Parisian markets with Sara. Well, let’s just say all moments with Sara were top moments!

market9. Enjoying time on the beautiful screened porch that Neal built me. This included our fun-filled Open Porch Wednesdays (the porch was open to all from 6-9 with drinks and snacks at the ready…I can’t wait for summer to start it up again!), time napping, reading, chatting, watercolor paining, and writing. And…before the screens went in, I saw our clutch of phoebes learn to fly!

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10. Bringing little Oskar into our family. Moments when we hiked together, watched the pups all playing, celebrated Tilly’s return to health as she ran with the new dog, remembered sweet Maddie when Oskar did something just the way she used to.

Oskar2

There are thousands of great memories from 2013, most of them revolving around Neal, my best pals, my family, my mutts, my creative outlets, and teaching. What are some of your favorite moments from 2013?

 

 

 

 

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Oskar

Jan 06

Oskar

 

We’ve had Oskar for a little over two months, and I am smitten. When Maddie died so suddenly, I thought “I will never give my heart to a dog again.” How foolish I was! It did not take long after meeting him to know Oskar is a special little (truly, he’s little!) husky. He’s almost always a gentleman. He’s a little aloof, which is common for this breed, but in the last few weeks, he’s been expressing a lot more connection to me and Neal.

The rescue group from which we adopted him brought him to CT from GA, where he had been found chained outside to a cinder block, terribly undernourished. At six months old, he weighed only 19 pounds. When his darling foster mom brought him to our home to see if he would fit in with Tilly and Coco, the poor guy didn’t even know how to climb the stairs onto the porch. When he saw the bowl of fresh water we keep out for the dogs, he drank like he might never have another chance.

We brought him to our vet’s the first week, and he showed me the striation on Oskar’s nails, evidence of poor nutrition followed by good nutrition. He also has a bump on his gum that indicates some intense chewing (the chain, maybe?). There were some worm issues (I’ll spare you wormy poop photos…but we have them!), easily amended.

Oskar gained weight, reaching skijoring weight (35 lbs) two weeks ago. I would love to train him for skijor, but I’m not sure I’m a good enough skier. Maybe Neal will take it on. He’s confident with the other two dogs, and he’s starting to be protective over Coco. Neal built an amazing fence around our back yard, and Oskar can really stretch his legs now. Siberian huskies are notorious for running and heading off on their own to hunt. The fence will give him loads of freedom and give us some peace of mind.

I’ve taken him hiking almost every day. Most days we go for about an hour. When I have to get to work early, we hike only about 30-45 minutes, and when the conditions are excellent, we hike for two hours. He and I have both built strength. Hikes that used tire me are now a breeze. It is a joy to watch Oskar develop from a malnourished, weak pup into a strong young dog.

Most exciting to me is how “teachable” (Sara’s word [and her picture above]) Oskar is. He came to us knowing how to sit on command, and I taught him to shake hands and give a high five easily. Since I have a big dream for him, I started dog training in December. I want to bring Oskar into nursing homes to give joy to elders who need some unconditional love from a handsome, soft pup. We have had a ball at school. In fact, the highlight of my week is Saturday morning when we have class. We are a studious pair; we do our homework every day. While he can have some puppy ya-yas, Oskar is also eager to please and likes to focus on working with me.

I guess I could make this post very short by simply writing. Oskar: a gentleman and a scholar who has won my heart.

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